Coronavirus: Willesden Green 16-year-old releases folk album with all proceeds to Help Musicians
- Credit: Archant
A 16-year-old schoolboy from Willesden Green has written and released a folk album with all proceeds going to charity.
Elye Cuthbertson composed all 19 tracks on his album Covid 19 Compositions, written while in lockdown.
He collaborated with some of the top folk musicians in the country, who he has been lucky enough to meet and work with since he came to folk music around six and a half years ago.
He sent them the tunes to record from their own homes, then edited and produced the tracks when the clips were sent back.
The professional musicians in turn offered their skills and talents to the young student for free.
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Every penny from the sales proceeds will go to Help Musicians, a charity helping artists struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It certainly wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for lockdown,” said Elye, who won a music scholarship to St Marylebone CE School after being home-schooled and is currently in his first year of A Levels.
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He added: “There was a lot more time because of lockdown and no exams. I don’t know where the initial idea came from, I just wanted to continue doing music and playing music.
“I underestimated how much I’d have to learn. I was a bit naive in the beginning. If I’d realised how much I didn’t know I wouldn’t have done it but I figured it out in the end.”
Elye, who plays the melodeon - a type of button accordion - wrote tunes with instructions, but invited the collaborating musicians to put their own take on the music: “I never knew what I would get back, it was very exciting.”
He wrote a tune for five-piece band Don’t Feed The Peacocks and it is the only track he doesn’t perform on.
Folk music “works differently” to classical music written on a score, which Elye said was “more natural”.
A Brent Young Musician of the Year finalist before the Covid-19 pandemic, Elye learnt to edit, mix, master, record and “polish off” music, receiving unexpected help from the musicians he collaborated with.
“I really wanted to do something for Help Musicians,” said Elye. “Lockdown has had a terrible impact on everyone and for musicians financially and emotionally as they have not been able to share the moments together and all gigs were cancelled and teaching too.
“It’s dark times still as most gigs still aren’t happening. And all the people involved gave their time completely for free.”
The album is comprised of 19 original instrumental folk tunes. Fourteen of the tracks are collaborations with other folk musicians, including Sam Sweeney, Sam Partridge, David Delarre, Finn Collinson and Don’t Feed the Peacocks.
Melodeon player Archie Churchill-Moss said Elye’s album was “an impressive debut from an adept accordion player”.
He said: “Covid 19 Compositions perfectly encapsulates Elye’s dynamic natural talent. His skill in composition and arrangement shows maturity beyond his years and this album is an informed contemporary response to a quickly evolving instrumental folk scene.
“Elye has a lyrical control over his playing. His confidence shines throughout this album; with a beautiful harmonic palette and a driving pulse Elye delivers a powerfully emotive body of work.
“The generous spirit in which this album was born, and the community of brilliant musicians that feature on this album provide a comforting reminder of togetherness in trying times.”
Musician Finn Collinson added: “It has been a total pleasure to record for this project – Elye sent me a cracking tune to work with and it’s great to be appearing alongside such incredible musicians, many of whom I’ve worked with previously.”
Help Musicians said: “We are incredibly grateful to Elye for putting together such a brilliant fundraiser.
“Music has meant so much to so many of us during these difficult times, yet tens of thousands of musicians have completely lost their ability to earn a living.
“As a charity that offers musicians a lifetime of support when it’s needed most, we have been working to ensure we can offer not only financial support, but also creative development opportunities and a vital mental health service which reaches the entire music community during this difficult time.
“We’d like to extend our thanks to Elye and all those involved in supporting this wonderful project.”
The album is available as both a digital download and a physical CD, available to buy from iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.